Not all developing countries have the resources and human capital to conduct a national representative census or high-quality data-gathering on their population. However, a few Southern countries have successful experiences and are well equipped to share and assist other countries to tackle challenges in the implementation of population censuses. In this particular area, knowledge-sharing may lead to a domino effect where one receiving country can then become a provider country.
Towards a Solution
In 2012, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the national statistical offices of Cabo Verde, Senegal and South Africa came together to establish reference centres for censuses, using electronic data collection, in the three African countries. The aim is to share the technical knowledge and experiences of the IBGE on data-gathering and censuses. In some countries, it also involves sharing technical devices, such as personal digital-assistant devices (a handheld device that combines computing, telephone/fax, Internet and networking features), to gather data. This initiative came about in response to the need of countries for reliable data in order to undertake policy evaluations, monitor progress, and ensure the transparency and accountability of national institutions.
The Knowledge-sharing on Census project between the national statistical departments of Brazil, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal has enabled participating countries to learn from one another’s local realities and improve national capacity to use data as a strategic tool to address national priorities and needs. The initiative reinforces the capacity of (a) participating governments to generate reliable statistics that will inform their design of public policies; (b) the populations of African countries who rely on public policies directed to their needs; and (c) the African statistical community, which will be able to share best practices in planning and management, implementation, processing, analysis and dissemination of data from censuses.
The initiative includes technical exchanges between Brazilian government officials and statistical experts of participating countries, workshops for capacity development and, in some cases, loans of personal digital-assistant devices. The knowledge- sharing has led to the increased institutional capacity of statistical institutes of the participating countries through the training of civil servants and statisticians and the sharing of technology. The initiative has helped countries to address data gaps and has contributed to improved equipping of countries to use proper technologies to collect data and utilize the data as a tool to address individual needs at the local level.
The cooperation among national statistical authorities has enabled countries to share knowledge and concrete approaches to common challenges in designing and analysing data for development. The ongoing effort gives countries the tools that they need to conduct a census and become South-South providers for neighbouring countries. They do so by building on knowledge transfer with the IBGE, which enhances national capacity, facilitates decision-making and addresses people’s needs at the local level. In addition, strengthening countries’ ability to collect data has proven to be critical with respect to the Sustainable Development Goals and national development overall.
The project can be replicated in countries facing similar situations, provided that the governments of each country demonstrate an interest in learning from challenges and solutions in implementing the census using new technologies and techniques. Statistics South Africa, the National Agency of Statistics and Demography of Senegal and the National Institute of Statistics of Cabo Verde host the reference centres that will assist other African countries in the use of personal digital-assistant devices for data collection.
The initiative aims to reach as great a number of interested countries as possible. It is expected to benefit 17 out of the 58 African countries that will hold their population and housing censuses between 2015 and 2024. The project partners include the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, the IBGE, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and the UNFPA country offices in the three African countries.
Sustainable Development Goal target: 17.8
Countries / territories involved: Brazil, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, South Africa
Supported by: Brazil, UNFPA
Implementing entity: Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)
Project status: Ongoing
Project period: 2012-2017
Name: Mr. Jaime Nadal Roig, Representative of UNFPA, Brazil